The cartographic design and usability of whole-network bus maps

Mohd Said, Mohd Shahmy (2021) The cartographic design and usability of whole-network bus maps. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study represents an investigation into understanding the variation in bus map design and the impact of map design preferences in public transportation information portrayal. In many cities, bus services represent a vital facet of easing traffic congestion and reducing pollution. However, with the entrenched car culture in many countries, including Malaysia, the country targeted here, persuading people to change their mode of transport is a significant challenge. To promote this modal shift, people need to know what services are available and where (and when) they go. Bus service maps provide an invaluable element of providing suitable public transport information, but are often overlooked by transport planners, and are under-researched by cartographers. Although bus services are ubiquitous, much more attention has been devoted to metropolitan rail network maps (e.g. Ovenden 2003 & 2015, Roberts, 2012).

The earlier part of this study focuses on identifying the cartographic considerations when designing a bus map in a specific context. There are various approaches to the design of bus maps. It is a challenge for the authorities to understand which designs are preferred by the public and which perform best in conveying the required information. Even a quick look at a small sample of bus maps will show that there can be a significant variation in approach. This can vary from whole-network maps to single routes, and from geographically accurate maps to highly schematised representations. To advance the study and understand the cartographic styles of bus maps, it is necessary to develop a robust classification system that considers the critical factors in their design. The method employed was to examine a wide range of bus map examples from around the world, supplemented by considerations of other map classification systems and personal understanding of available options. The resulting classification is multi-faceted, but there are some apparent top-level differences in approach. One main distinction is between Geographical Approach maps and Schematic maps. While schematic maps are extensively used for metro systems, there are quite different considerations for bus maps and while some level of schematisation may be useful, highly schematic bus maps often present difficulties in everyday use.

While the earlier research phases identified the significant options in bus map design, to inform design choices, it is also essential to consider what users prefer and best promotes successful use. To help provide guidance, a map usability study was conducted during which bus users and potential bus users had to solve several journey planning tasks using two different designs of whole-network bus maps. The two different designs are the Geographical Approach bus map design and the Semi-schematised bus map design. The distinguishing aspect of these two bus maps is only in their overall map design approach. Both maps have an identical bus route and bus information detail together with the same cartographic representation in terms of classification, symbolisation and typography.

While many of the findings have general relevance to all bus map use situations, the usability testing was carried out in Malaysia to ensure the findings were relevant to promoting bus use in that country. 100 respondents were involved in the map usability test. Cultural differences can be a factor in influencing map use performance and design preferences. The outcomes of the usability study were analysed statistically, starting with descriptive statistical analysis of all possible influencing factors of map preferences (independent variable data) like age, gender, travel habits, driving license availability, among others. These data were then cross-analysed with the findings from the map usability test, ranging from the respondent performance based on the correctness of an answer to their opinions about the maps. The analysis includes the ease of use while using the map, the confidence level in using the map and their map design preference.

The results show that the respondents prefer to use the Semi-schematised bus map design rather than the Geographical Approach bus map design. Their map preference’s selection is well explained by their performance in the journey-planning tasks and subsequent answers to the questionnaire. The Semi-schematic design had a higher degree of task correctness than when using the Geographical Approach design. This degree of correctness that favours semi-schematic design shows the same pattern across all genders, ages, and travel habits, and is decisively supported by the confidence level ratings and ease of map use ratings. Interestingly, respondents across all age groups say they would be willing to make greater use of public transport if there were more of these kinds of maps available.

In conclusion, this research has brought much-needed insight into the public transport information provision of Malaysia’s public transport systems. There has been lack of research in this field in Malaysia, and the findings from this study have highlighted the benefit of using the right cartographic technique to enhance public transport information provision and improve the use of the public transport system as a whole. Apart from the continuous improvement in physical aspects of public transport systems, a well-designed public transport map that balances the efficient cartographic technique with local cultural preferences. All these measures certainly can help authorities and public transport providers in encouraging the modal shift from the regular use of private cars to more frequent use of public transport systems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cartographic design, map design, bus maps, public transport maps, public transport mapping, map usability study.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GA Mathematical geography. Cartography
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Forrest, Dr. David
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Mohd Shahmy Mohd Said
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82023
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2021 07:44
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2022 11:33
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82023

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